Manila Bulletin

The CBTL Exactly like the barista’s brew

By: Tessa Mauricio-Arriola
Manila Times
June 23, 2011

THERE are certain things in life that just don’t work DIY (do-it-yourself). That perfect haircut when washed and styled the next day never looks the same. A wrap-around dress that fit fabulously before purchase hangs horribly when you tie it yourself. Even your favorite dish from mom never tastes right, despite following her recipe to the letter.

If you’ve given up on everything DIY, you might want to reconsider your decision, especially if you’re a coffee or tea lover. More so if you’re a gourmet coffee and tea addict.

The popular specialty brew chain The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® has just released an ingenious machine that makes exactly the same cup of espresso or brewed coffee and tea that the baristas make behind the company’s 42 counters nationwide.

This no-miss, no-mess DIY innovation is made possible through a single-serve system that uses specially-made vacuum packed capsules of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf®’s all time favorite beans and leaves, thereby giving consistent shots of espresso and brews every time.

he Manila Times tried the simply tagged CBTL™ machine on Tuesday at the Burgos Circle branch at The Fort, and discovered that making that The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® cuppa is as easy as 1-2-3. Literally. All you have to do is 1) Fill the machine with water; 2) Pop in the capsule of your choice in the slot under the lever; and 3) Press a single button, and out comes your perfect shot of espresso or brew.

“There are less buttons on this machine than your ATM,” quipped Walden Chu, president of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® Philippines. “Our mother company in Los Angeles developed this platform, not to compete, but in response to the growing café culture around the world, the Philippines included, where coffee and tea drinkers want to extend the café experience to their homes.”

With this, the company sought a partnership with another legacy brand, Caffitaly, for the sole purpose of combining The Coffee Bean& Tea Leaf®’s flavor and taste with Italian design and espresso making expertise. CBTL™ was thus born in the form of a machine so sleek and simple, that it is quite possibly one of the most important innovations the specialty coffee industry has seen to date.

Why so? Unlike its forerunner, the famed Nespresso machines developed by Nescafe, the CBTL™ is not limited to making espressos. To be more accurate, this new wonder is a complete beverage system. So long as you have a milk frother handy (CBTL™ also has its own version) you can make not just coffees, but The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf®’s signature drinks, including its version of the Americano and Cappuccino, flavored lattes, tea lattes, as well as the hot vanilla and chocolate options.

Simply put, once the machine was finalized, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® thought of everything. To make the flavored coffee and tea lattes, as well as the hot vanilla and chocolate, they captured the flavors in power sachets that can be bought alongside the capsules.

Take for example you want to make the ever popular The Coffee Bean& Tea Leaf® Chai Tea Latte: You start with making a shot of Chai using the capsule on the CBTL™ machine. You then get a whisk and add in a sachet of French Vanilla Deluxe powder, and finally, pour in the frothed milk, making sure to do so with some wrist swirling action to get all the foam up the top. Tastes just as good as the store’s very cup.

When asked whether the CBTL™ system in the long run will not just extend the café experience to the home, but also cut down a coffee addict’s expenses for gourmet brews—usually the main reason why people try to brew their own javas, DIY—the answer was a resounding yes.

“But you have to remember, our primary goal for coming up with the CBTL™ is to satisfy the gourmet coffee lifestyle at home with quality,” clarified Chu. “But yes, it can translate to savings eventually.”

Doing the math, The Manila Times pegs each coffee or tea capsule at P40. Add in your milk of choice—full fat, not fat or skimmed—from the carton, and you can have a cappuccino for say, a little over P50. If you want the flavored lattes, just add P62 to that for a powder sachet, and you can have your drink way below the usual P150-mark. Not bad, eh?

But before the eventual savings, you would have to part with a cool P13,750 for the CBTL™ machine, and of course the milk frother, whether you buy the matching CBTL™ unit (P4,250) or a department store-type frother.

“You can’t just boil your milk to get the foamy texture,” reminded Travis Heard, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® - US head of business development, who came all the way from Los Angeles to demonstrate the simple steps of the single-serve system to the press. “You really need a frother if you want to have the real thing.”

Another reminder he gave is to just go online via for any questions or troubleshooting tips at home. “Not that you would encounter any difficulty though because the machine is just so easy to use. Anyone can make that perfect CBTL™ cup.”

The beverage capsules for espressos are Italian, Premium, Premium Decaf and Continental; French, Viennese, House Brew and House Brew Decaf for coffee; and Chai, English Breakfast, Tropical Passion and Moroccan Mint for the teas. The powder sachets meanwhile come in Special Dutch Chocolate and French Deluxe.

If you really want to go all the way for a genuine café experience at the comfort of your own home, accessories are also available in a variety of lightweight, heat-resistant double wall borosilicate glasses.

The Philippines is only one of a handful of countries where the CBTL™ single serve system and its accessories have been made available—proof of the phenomenal growth of the specialty coffee drinking industry over the last decade.

“The Philippines is a very important market for us,” confirmed Chu, “and this is The Coffee Bean& Tea Leaf®’s way of taking care of our customers, even beyond our counters.”

The CBTL™ is available in the classic Contata in black and gray, and the bright Kaldi in blue, red, gold and silver.